On February 12, 2022, the world of cinema lost a legend. Calling Director Ivan Reitman a comedy icon is an understatement. Whether Reitman directed a film, wrote it, produced it, or offered input, his unique brand of humor lasted generations. It seems as if each generation has a Reitman film to call their own. From Animal House in the ’70s to Beethoven in the ’90s. His films have uniquely spoken to each generation. His blend of humor and drama ensures his films have something for everyone. There are plenty of great films connected to him, and here are 10 of the best Ivan Reitman movies.
10. Evolution (2001)
When it comes to Ivan Reitman movies and the supernatural, most will make the obvious connection to ghosts. However, those around the early 2000s who have an affinity for silly sci-fi may also think of Evolution. The film follows a group of people who discover an alien lifeform has arrived on earth and plans on taking it over. The film is a mixed bag, but Director Ivan Reitman’s signature charm does shine through on more than one occasion. The film’s lead is played by David Duchovny, who was no stranger to aliens, as he was fresh off of The X-Files at the time. Evolution may not be a very well-known movie, but there is a loyal fanbase for the cult film, which is heavily due to Ivan’s direction.
9. Old School (2003)
Old School may not have been directed or written by Reitman, but he served as Executive Producer, and his presence is very much felt. The film revolved around three friends who want to re-live their college frat days and start their own fraternity simply to party. Old School is reminiscent of Reitman’s raunchy screwball comedies from early in his career, such as Meatballs and especially Animal House. The movie came in at the tail end of the popularity of raunchy comedies that became popular in the wake of American Pie, so critics at the time weren’t highly receptive to it due to burnout of the genre. Audiences, however, enjoyed it, and Will Ferrel enjoyed a huge career boost from it as he went on to become a comedy icon in his own right.
8. Twins (1988)
After enjoying a legendary career as an action star in the ’80, Arnold Schwarzenegger began appearing in more tongue-in-cheek and comedic roles as the ’90s approached. One such role was in Twins, co-starring Danny DeVito and helmed by directorIvan Reitman. The film follows Schwarzenegger as he discovers he has a lost twin brother. He tracks him down, only to discover the twin is very much fraternal as he is played by Danny DeVito. The movie far from broke any records, but it was a fun time featuring a, then primarily, action star in a goofier role. Twins is still fondly thought of today, as a sequel has been in the works for years. Reitman had taken on more family-friendly films at the time, and to many, this is one of the best examples.
7. Kindergarten Cop (1990)
Perhaps the most famous movie that attempted to turn Arnold into a comedy icon was Kindergarten Cop. The movie is about a cop who must go undercover in a Kindergarten class to locate the ex-wife of a criminal he is investigating. Hijinks, of course, ensue. The movie is harmless and does house quite a few laughs. The movie doesn’t feel like a classic Ivan Reitman movie in any sense, but it is still a fun part of his filmography. Like Twins, the movie is still watched and enjoyed today and even received a sequel. The sequel was released straight to DVD over 20 years later. The sequel has nothing to do with the previous movie and is best left forgotten.
6. Ghostbusters: Afterlife (2021)
It is fitting that the Ivan Reitman movie released during his life was one of his best. While not directing Ghostbusters: Afterlife like he did the original two, he does act as Executive Producer and passes the directing duties to his son, Jason Reitman. The movie has been mostly praised as holding the heart of the original films while still being original enough to stand on its own. Jason Reitman has proven time and time again that talent runs in the family, and this film shows the Ghostbusters franchise is in more than capable hands in Ivan’s absence. Fans of the originals should give this film a shot If not to see Ivan’s brilliant swan song as well as a touching tribute to the late Harold Ramis.
5. Stripes (1981)
Stripes celebrated its 40th-anniversary last year, and even all these years later, it is still one of the funniest and revered of the Ivan Reitman movies. The movie is unorthodox and raunchy, a perfect blend to ensure a side-splitting ’80s classic. The film follows two friends as they join the army for no other reason than they are bored. The movie has an all-star cast of comedy icons, including John Candy and future Ghostbusters Bill Murray and Harold Ramis. The film was written by Ramis and directed by Reitman, showing the two were a perfect comedic pair.
4. Ghostbusters II (1989)
As soon as Ghostbusters hit the scene in 1984, the pop-cultural impact could be felt worldwide. The film was a smash hit, and the theme song was played in households everywhere. The movie even spawned an animated series that took on a life of its own. A sequel was inevitable, and it finally came in 1989. Dan Akroyd and Harold Ramis once again wrote the film, with Ivan Reitman helming as director. The film’s most significant criticism was the softer, more family-friendly tone. The first movie had some minor adult themes. The sequel, however, was marketed more towards families thanks to the animated series and toy line. Regardless, Ghostbusters II is still a fun and worthy sequel. After this film, nobody looked at slime the same way again.
3. Meatballs (1979)
Meatballs is the movie every other summer comedy wishes they were. The film is raunchy, inappropriate, and, most importantly, hilarious. The movie did spawn a few sequels, but none come close to the level of success this film had. The film stars comedy icon Bill Murray as head counselor Tripper and follows him as he leads his camp to victory against the rich kids camp in the annual Camp Olympics. The movie may be very adult and even immature at times, but there is plenty of heart, and each actor brings their A-game. Anybody who claims to be a fan of comedy should check this film out.
2. National Lampoon’s Animal House (1978)
When one thinks of National Lampoon movies, the Vacation series is likely the first on the list. However, the movie that made those later films possible and changed comedy altogether was Animal House. Harold Ramis wrote the film and, of course, directed by Reitman. The most memorable part of the film was John Belushi as Blutto, his most iconic role next to Jake Blues. The film pushed the bar in what censors would allow. Animal House was a massive success and launched the film careers of several who were involved, including Reitman. The movie even spawned a sitcom spin-off, even though it fell in with other forgotten shows based on movies
1. Ghostbusters (1984)
There is little that can be said about Ghostbusters that hasn’t been said for decades. The movie took what it means to be a comedy icon and flipped it on its head. It had groundbreaking special effects, hilarious performances, and an incredibly likable cast. Dan Akroyd and Harold Ramis wrote the film while the talent was rounded out by director Ivan Reitman. It isn’t a stretch to say this is probably the best-known Ivan Reitman movie. Odds are it will be the one he is most remembered for. This film has left an impact no other has been able to. From several big-screen follow-ups, two animated shows, a famous toy line, and a few video games, it is nearly impossible to escape the impact of Ghostbusters.